Without a doubt, receiving a FEMA Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program (AFGP) award is much more fun than managing it. Especially since most fire departments submit several applications under the various programs over many years until they receive the happy news.
But managing the award is equally as important as receiving it. When our clients receive awards, we present them with some common sense guidelines on how to document expenditures, avoid conflicts, and maintain good records. Our recommendations are based much more on logical book keeping than any accepted fiscal standard. In fact, it's largely based on how we operate our business practices.
"The number one issue we have with our awardees comes within the first minutes of award notification," said Tom Devaney, Director of Operations at JSK Inc/Grant-Guys. "The initial question almost immediately is, 'Can we use the money for something else? We don't want that anymore.'" The short answer is no. If you applied for an item and were awarded that item, it is highly unlikely the award will be greatly altered. This is is because the questions are computer scored for various items, and the narrative was approved by the peer review committee for that specific item.
The reality is that much of the AFGP is based on the honor system. As citizens and firefighters, it's up to us to be honest and keep good records. But many awards are audited. Recently, one of our clients was the subject of an AFGP desk review. We assisted the fire department for two reasons: first, we wanted to learn what should be documented to help our other clients in the future; and secondly--and most importantly--it was the right thing to do.
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Kevin Mulrooney is a 30 year volunteer firefighter/EMT/Hazmat Tech. He is the owner of JSK Inc., "the Grant-Guys." JSK is NYâs largest fire grant writing firm securing a record $2 million by round four of the 2013 AFGP. JSK represents 200 fire departments in nine states.